Album Review: Kiesza – Crave (2020)

While everyone else (quite understandably) gushed over the first piece of Dua Lipa’s remix album and Miley Cyrus’ new track ‘Midnight Sky’, another, forgotten, pop queen quietly released her third major-label albumrather like the former, the 1980s is here to stay.

Normally, an artist doesn’t break through, and then wait six years to release the follow-up album. Indeed, it certainly wouldn’t have been in Kiesza’s plan to do so – but a car crash in an Uber in Toronto meant that she had a brain injury which forced her to remain in a darkened room for several months. This was why she suddenly disappeared from the spotlight after ‘Hideaway’ and ‘Giant In My Heart’ – the soundtracks to my 2014 summer. Once she returned to music, Kiesza collaborated with producer Chris Malinchak on their project ‘Weird Kid’, and since then has released a slew of singles, the highlights being the opera and theatre inspired ‘Phantom Of The Dance Floor’ with Canadian classical singer Philippe Sly, and the more emotional ballad ‘Sweet Love’.

She has been teasing the tracks from Crave since January – I believe the album was originally scheduled to come out in June. In order to pick up the album’s vibe I will point you towards the video for Sound Of A Woman’s ‘Giant In My Heart’ – very 80s, very free, and a willing soundtrack for a LGBT coming of age movie. ‘Can’t be Saved’ is the epitome of this: a feel-good anthem about falling dizzily in love, and knowing full well that nothing will get you out of it.

My favourite single was ‘Love Me With Your Lie’ – much like the rest of the album, synth heavy and very produced, painting pink and purple walls and a disco ball, lyrics about partying on a dancefloor and being in love. It’s got an infectious bassline and – as is trademark with Kiesza – an unforgettable chorus. The entire album has this same feel, which is certainly nothing new, but is something which I’m grateful for. It seems made for Kiesza’s distinctive vocals. However, it doesn’t mean the whole record is flaky and avoids big societal issues. On ‘When Boys Cry’ she expresses a desire to encourage men to be more open with their emotions, and to not bottle them up inside. This is a sentiment which I completely echo – having feelings is definitely not a sign of weakness, and it is healthy to talk whatever you’re feeling with someone you trust. It’s a theme which I think is often overlooked by artists, and it’s good to see that someone such as Kiesza is using her platform to promote it.

‘Love Never Dies’ is the penultimate song on the nine-track album. It opens with a piano solo and an ethereal backing, before she begins to sing about being in love ‘many times before’. It feels like it could turn into a simple ballad, but then the chorus kicks in – a deep wobble bass in combination with a muted piano gives her voice the kick which it deserves, before the second chorus feels like it’s building to something even bigger and darker. A wonderful melodramatic instrumental breakdown then ensues, both experimenting with the orchestral and electronic sounds which Kiesza has used throughout her career, before a final chorus rounds off an impressive track.

Following three more melancholic tracks, the final song ‘Dance With Your Best Friend’ is pure party heaven. It sounds nothing like the rest of the album, taking clear inspiration from the pop of the 2000s, through use of rappers and heavy autotune, along with a really cheesy hook about – I mean, just read the title. This is going straight into one of my party playlists. I’ve never heard of the featuring artists LICK DROP, Cocanina or Shan Vincent De Paul – but I’m VERY INTRIGUED.

‘Crave’ has been a long time in the making, but it’s worth it. Shorter than I anticipated, but that’s probably a good thing as it doesn’t feel like there’s any filler. There’s always something good happening, and she deserves the same acclaim as she got several years ago. Kiesza went away for a bit, but maybe it’s good that this album wasn’t released any sooner. The renaissance of the Eighties is in full swing, and long may it last – this album is one of the very best releases of this trend.

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